I have mild anxiety and it makes me feel as if everybody is watching me when I’m out and about, and it’s such a uncomfortable feeling.
I over think situations, even with things that I’ve done months and even years ago and I just feel embarrassed or think “what if they thought I meant it in that way? “Why did I even say that!”
Because of my anxiety I feel like I’m odd in public unless I’m with somebody that I’m familiar with.
Anxiety is very common in a lot of people.
You can get anxiety with different occurrences or different situations. Such as studying for an exam, whether you’re going to pass the exam, doing your driving test, bumping into somebody you really was trying to avoid. It can be anything.
Here are a few things that have helped me on days when I feel embarrassed and self conscious of myself in public because of my anxiety.
- FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE IT – Cringe. But honestly if you try and think to yourself that nobody knows how you’re feeling inside, and they can only see what’s on the outside then try and present yourself as normal as you can be. Try to smile at other people, and try not to overthink and panic. Pretend you’re okay, as people don’t know how you’re feeling on the inside. That’s how I deal with my anxiety and I try to portray myself as confident even though I’m not.
- BREATHE – Taking deep breaths in from your nose and out through your mouth will help your mind rest better. You can start concentrating on your breathing which is a distraction, and will calm your feelings and anxiety down. Here is a breathing excercise I have found on the NHS but I haven’t personally tried it myself. I do find that taking deep breaths and focusing on your breathing is a major distraction and a key strategy in calming yourself down.
- REMEMBER: EVERYBODY AROUND YOU HAS THEIR OWN WORRIES – If you’re shopping, taking a walk or out in public somewhere and if you get anxious thinking you look odd or everybody is staring at you, they’re not. They’re out doing their own thing, they probably feel the same as you, they could be going to work, and they have their own problems to deal with. You do fit in perfectly, and you’re doing great.
- LISTEN TO MUSIC – This could be an amazing distraction for you and music can make you feel 10x more better in those types of situations. Just block out everybody and listen to music that you love and relate to.
- BE FRIENDLY TO OTHERS – I know it’s hard when you’re having anxiety attack, or when you have those feelings creeping up on you and you’re feeling awful, but holding friendly conversation with the cashier, holding doors open, helping a stranger or smiling at a stranger just makes you feel a little better and a little confident. It helps me snap out of my anxiety sometimes and I feel confident in public when I do little gestures like that. It makes me feel good about myself and reassures me that I do not stick out like a sore thumb.
- PHONE SOMEBODY THAT YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH – before I had my son, 99.9% of the time I would call somebody because I would be feeling anxious, just so I could hold friendly conversation with somebody that I was familiar with so that I could feel comfortable. Your mind will be focused on the conversation that you’re having with the person on the phone, not your surroundings.
- POSITIVE THOUGHTS – try and think about something else so that your brain isn’t racing thinking of the situation you’re in, your thinking about the people around you and what they might be thinking. Try and extinguish the flame of anxiety, and I say this because in my experience if I over think the situation my anxiety can become really intense to the point I’m going to cry, or I need to rush home. Think about things that you’ve done in the week/weekend. Think about goals you’re going to achieve or things you would like to do in the future. I always think about activities to make/do with my son.
- GO SOMEWHERE QUIET – even if it’s the bathroom, if your trying everything to calm yourself down then it’s best to go somewhere quiet to breathe and to have space from whatever situation you’re faced with. If you’re in a city centre or a shopping centre go to somewhere you know is quiet like the library, even if you have to go to the bathroom to get some mind peace, it’s better than letting your anxiety get worse in front of people which will make your anxiety sky-rocket.
- TAKE IN THE ENVIRONMENT – as hard as this may be to do, especially on public transport, trying to embrace the fact you are having an anxiety attack instead of fighting it will make it pass quicker. If I feel like I’m having one especially on public transport, I look out the window, I play with my hands, I just find something to do or focus on while its occuring.
- FOCUS – when you’re having a panic attack or an anxiety attack it’s hard to focus, but if you use your breathing techniques and even focus on an object in the background, something to take away these unwanted feelings and to make you feel a little bit better in the environment you’re faced with. My hands or hair play a huge role, if I feel very anxious I will look at my hands and feel my nails which is crazy but it’s my technique, or I’ll twist my hair to distract myself from getting worse.
Everybody deals with their anxiety in different ways, the ones above are ones that I do when I’m having a really bad day or when I’m feeling extremely anxious or nervous.
If you feel like you need help or you feel as if the anxiety is getting too out of hand and you cannot control it in the slightest it’s always important you seek help from a professional.
This website called mind.org, has many different tips and information on how to help yourself when dealing with an anxiety attack, I found it extremely useful.
Seeking help from somebody doesn’t mean you’ve failed and it doesn’t mean anything negative. Counselling and learning techniques from professionals, and being able to talk to somebody about your issues will help you overcome and deal with your anxiety better.